The Grade Two David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle has attracted 33 entries – two more than in 2008 – including eight from Ireland. Heading the possible field is last year’s heroine Whiteoak, who made such a promising return to action at Wincanton on February 14. Newmarket handler Lucy Wadham has yet to train a Festival winner but has high hopes for her stable star United, who is swerving the Ladbrokes World Hurdle to contest the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle. The eight-year-old, who finished fourth to Inglis Drever in the 2008 Ladbrokes World Hurdle, has won her last two outings, most recently in a Grade Two contest at Ascot on January 17 when she was successful by five lengths from Sweetheart.
Wadham said today: “United is absolutely on target for the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle. She worked on Wednesday morning and she’s in good nick at the moment. She came out of her Ascot race really well and we’ve stepped up her work to ensure that’s she is in top shape for The Festival.
“I think that two and a half miles is the optimum trip for her and we won’t mind if she has to do the donkey work because she’s done it before. I think we will beat Whiteoak at Cheltenham – we are both rated 150 and we were beating Refinement out of sight over two and a half miles two seasons ago and the tables were only turned when we stepped up to three miles on good ground.
“I am very hopeful of a good run at The Festival and I would be hopeful that she will continue to race next season. The programme of races encourages owners to keep mares in training and it is certainly great for racing.”